Day 54 – Richmond to Ruther Glen, VA

I had a hard time getting up and going today. Soaked up all of the time before check out at 11 from my hotel room.

Today is the 4th of July and I am leaving Richmond, unsure of where I will end up, but hopefully find some kind of festivities!

Well, 12 miles in I found just that! A small town was having a little parade, cookout, some games, and a pie auction. (Too bad they weren’t doing a hotdog eating contest!)

4th of July festivities in Ashland, VA

Met a real nice couple there that had biked the US twice! He bought me two burgers and a strawberry lemonade and helped me fix my bike gears to shift more smoothly than they had been. He also brought to the parade a sweet custom bike pictured below!

Spent about an hour or so there talking with the locals and then biked off towards the north again.

It wasn’t much farther that I got a phone call from my dad. He told me that my papa had passed and went to be with The Lord.

While he wasn’t having a good quality of life the past couple years, I am thankful he is in a better place, but it’s still hard to know he isn’t here with us anymore.

Just a few minutes after the call, it started dumping rain, but I was able to sneak inside a Burger King to escape it.

Between the news of my papa passing and the heavy rains, I wasn’t feeling like riding anymore today.

I searched and found a KOA campsite nearby but they wanted $55 for a tent pad! Rediculous! So I searched again and found a hotel about an hour bike ride up the road for the same price. I think I’ll take the hotel room over the grass pad..

I had a big scare whike at the Burger King. I had parked my bike right outside the door next to the window so it was covered from the rain and so I could see it. I went to the bathroom and when I came out it wasn’t there anymore!

My stomach was in my throat. I ran out the door.

It had just fell down (or someone knocked it down). So it was still there but just laying halfway off the curb getting soaked where I couldn’t see it from inside.

Once the rain let up, I biked the extra few miles and bought myself the hotel room for the night where I just hung out and probably had the most lame 4th of July night in a long time. I was grateful to be out of the rain and with AC and a bed again for the night.

Day 55 – Ruther Glen to Alexandria, VA

I dedicated today’s ride to my papa and boy was it a beautiful start!

It was cool out, a bit foggy and the East Coast Greenway route took me through tree lined back roads. Lots of birds chirping and droplets of rain falling off the leaves of the trees. I’ve found that the Cardinal bird to be my favorite this trip. The bright red body is a great contrast to the list green nature all around. I got to see a few of them this morning! (I assume they are Cardinals… They are small beautiful red birds.)

I felt great both physically and mentally. Shoot, I was smiling big this morning!

My original plan was to ride roughly 45 miles, go to some breweries, and find a campsite near Fredericksburg. Well it doesn’t all go as planned, and that’s exactly why I don’t try to plan out my days too much.

I rode past another one of these lawn signs that read: thank you Jesus. I say another because I’ve passed tons of these signs especially in the Carolinas. Today I had to finally get a picture of it.

Thank you Jesus!

Everyday I try to pray in the first few miles of riding. Today, my prayer was a prayer of thankfulness.

There is so much to be thankful for! I have a loving family, good friends, a beautiful wife that let me leave for 90 days, good health, safety on this trip, no issues with my equipment, places to stay, wonderful and generous people I’ve been able to meet, and the list just kept going.

It was probably one of the best morning rides I’ve had yet. It’s crazy how expressing and realizing everything you’re thankful for can bring you such peace, joy, and contentment. That’s how I felt this morning.

A little over 30 miles in I was able to add another couple things I was thankful for: Beer and AC!

Strangeways Brewing Co

It had gotten pretty toasty and humid out so I was grateful to step inside Strangeways Brewing Co and drink some refreshing 5oz pours of their beers. Their IPA (named Snappy dresser) made the list of my top IPAs so far!

By this point I was in historic Fredericksburg and got to ride around a bit downtown and of course stop and try some more beer.

Spencer Devon Brewing Co

My plan was all going great and had my sights on my third brewery which was a few miles north of Fredericksburg and on the way to the state park I was gonna camp at.

This Brewery was called Adventure Brewing and the bartender and another drinker, Kristi were very welcoming into the bar. He immediately started pouring samples for me to try that I didn’t ask for and she immediately said she would pay for my tab!

My bear paw sweat stain after my adventures
Kristi

It was at this brewery that I decided I was gonna go to Alexandria instead of the campsite to my buddy Dave Schwalbe’s house. He had another friend Eric Stanley in town who I know and have been scalloping and drinking with many times before. Stanley was leaving the next day though, so I figured shoot, let’s try and get there tonight!

So after my third brewery. I decided I was going to bike another 60 or so miles (hopefully)!

View overlooking Occoquan, VA

Was it the beer talking? Am I crazy? The most I have done so far in a day has been less than 68 miles! That’s nearly 30 miles more! I’m also in the hilliest area of my entire trip.

Definitely sounded easier than it was! I stopped a few times. One stop was at a Wawa to grab a quick bite to eat and drink some coffee for some extra energy around 7 at night. Replaced one of my water bottles for the coffee cup and kept trucking.

I started the day at 8am and I ended up getting to the house at about 9:30 pm and rode just under 94 miles! Thought about just riding in circles for an extra 6 miles to get to 100, but I was exhausted and my butt was killing me.

Schwalbe and I after I arrived
Stanley and I after my 94 miles

Welcome to casa de Schwalbe where you will drink more bud light then you’ll ever want or need!

He kept bringing me food – I ate it all. He kept handing me bud lights – I drank them all. We stayed up until 3am hanging out and telling stories. Surprisingly, I had enough energy to stay up, but I crashed hard once it was finally time to sleep.

Day 56 – Drinking day!

I was able to sleep in to whenever I wanted to and it was great! Got some coffee and an egg sandwich in me when I did wake up and said adios to Stanley and his family.

While Schwalbe (Dave) was gone taking them to the airport I was able to get some blogging done and really just rest my legs after my biggest day yet yesterday. My legs were certainly sore!

It’s nice having a pair of flip flops with me so on my rest days and whenever I’m not riding I can air out my white feet and toes. Speaking of white, here is a nice tan I aquired while biking so far!

Solid biking tans

Enough of the Bud lights, let’s get some delicious craft beers!

Once Schwalbe got back he opened a couple buds and said, “we’ll just have a couple bud lights first and then we will go to some breweries!”

Haha alright! So we had a beer or two and ordered our Uber out to the first brewery.

We asked the bartenders at Port City Brewing if they do flights and they said kind of. You can order as many 4 oz pours as you want and they just charge you for each.

“Give us them all”!

They looked at each other not knowing if they could do that. I guess it doesn’t happen often there! They didn’t have any boards or racks to hold them, but a nice fella next to us scooted down to make room for us and our brews.

“Quite the beer line up!”

So we shared them all and really didn’t have a clue which was which except for that black one in the middle. They were tasty and it was fun/funny seeing Schwalbe try all the different kinds. Bartenders there were all awesome as well which made the first stop a great one to get the night going.

Our second stop ended up not actually being a brewery, but we had a pint anyways.

The brewery that wasn’t actually a brewery

Onto the next one!

New district Brewing Co

This is when things started to get messy. Now normally, I don’t drink this much since I am biking and on a budget. But now we are ubering everywhere and he is having just as much fun as me trying the breweries…

Not sure what pose we were going for here

Straight to the head! That’s how he described the craft beers compared to his bud lights. We were having a blast, but those beers got him napping in those Ubers.

On that ride, he ordered the Uber and we went a completely different direction than we were trying to go to. He typed in Blueduck instead of Bluejacket. We had a good laugh, a photo op and ordered another Uber to our final brewery.

Blue Duck, Blue Jacket.. classic mixup
Blue Duck tavern was much fancier than what we were looking for

The last brewery was packed so we didn’t stay long. Plus we had enough beers for the day.

Bluejacket Brewing Co

Or did we? Nope, had to finish off the night with some good ol bud light and pizza.

Pretty sure he is sponsored by bud light

As much as he probably could have or maybe wanted to, I cut the night “early” at 11pm and slept like a baby. I made sure I chugged a lot of water before bed too. Of course, this made me have to wake up in the middle of the night, but always worth it!

Stats:

  • Day 54 – 32.18 miles
  • Day 55 – 93.76 miles
  • Day 55 – Rest

Accommodation:

  • Sleep Inn
  • Ruther Glen Knights Inn
  • Schwalbes house (friend)

Breweries:

Day 51 – Norfolk to Windsor, VA

My last few hours with my wife, before she boards her plane and heads back to Tampa. It’ll be another month before she comes and visits again.

She really wanted to visit the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, so that was our plan before she left.

We woke up early and went downtown and ate 3 delicious crepes. 1 savory, 1 sweet, and 1 that could be considered both. So good! And lucky for me my wife gets full pretty quick so I ate most of them!

We went back to the hotel, packed up and set out for the gardens. Me biking, and her driving. She stopped at Walmart on the way and picked me up some food. Love her.

The Botanical Gardens were right next to the airport which was convenient. The grounds were huge! Something like 153 acres! Too big to walk it all in our hour and a half there. So we took a tram around the place and it was a great end to my time with my babe.

I realized that time stresses me out. I put a timeline on the day that she should leave at 1:00 to get gas, return the car, and get to her plane which left at 3:09.

She didn’t leave the gardens until about 1:30. This stressed me out, and as much as I tried to hide it and get rid of her, she knew.

She had plenty of time, even to eat some food before her flight. So that’s something I am trying to work on this trip. To not stress over time, cause my I believe if you’re not early, you’re late!

Back to biking

So it’s 1:30 and my choice was now: stay near Norfolk another night and crush some miles tomorrow, or use the cooler weather today and crush a good chunk. If I leave today, I can stop in Williamsburg for some brewski’s tomorrow.

Sold! I decided to bike about 54 miles back out to the middle of nowhere. Rode up on a car that just started to catch fire. The family just ran out of the car before I captured the picture, and I ended up being the last one on the highway to pass the car before the police closed it to extinguish the flames.

Now this middle of nowhere that I was biking to was also right back to where that nudist community was that I stayed at!

Round 2!?

So the truth comes out. The other day when I stayed at that nudist community, I knew ahead of time it was a nudist campsite. I, however, had not planned on staying there and didn’t even know about it until I was about 5 miles away. I thought it would be a funny addition to my trip. Didn’t really know the “rules” of the place before I entered.

While it made for a great story (more than you guys got, sorry), one visit was enough for now. So I found the original campsite I was going to stay at the other night and stayed there tonight. No nakedness for me tonight!

Right after I set up camp, I took a shower and ended up having a long shower conversation with a guy in the next shower stall. Luckily, unlike the nudist camp, the showers were separated and I had my privacy.

I got some weird stories from him like how he dated a girl “a lot younger than him and very good looking” and she convinced him to have a shower with her. (I’m sure that took a lot of convincing..) She loved super hot water showers and so he got used to that and now the water in this shower wasn’t hot enough for him.

I thought the cold water felt great! After the story, I tried out the hot water, and it seemed plenty hot to me!

I finally met him after the shower, and turns out he lives in the campground and his RV shower is hot enough for him, but doesn’t have enough pressure. I got this guy’s whole life story. I think he just needed someone to talk to, and I was the chosen one.

Interesting, but nice fella. Good night, man, I’m going back to my tent now.

Day 52 – Windsor to Williamsburg, VA

My ride ended near the US 5 sign, forgot to ‘end my trip’ before getting picked up by a friend’s mom..
I’m okay with leaving all the corn fields behind me

I’m actually going to miss all of these middle of nowhere roads. Roads where the signs say share the road and then have a picture of a tractor instead of a bicycle. I feel like I am getting more into the big city route now where I have to worry about cars instead of dogs.

Wonder if they serve bacon every Sunday morning…

I made my way to a ferry crossing and met a church group there. They happened to be from a Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, NC. The same city where I slept behind a Baptist Church!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same church they were from – that would have been a crazy coincidence! But their church wasn’t far from it.

They hooked me up with some cold water and snacks as we boarded the ferry. This is now my 4th river crossing by ferry.

4th ferry ride across James River

Made it across into historic Jamestown, VA and a brewery was waiting for me to get there to open their doors.

Billsburg Brewery

Had myself a flight, and took my time drinking it as I soaked up the AC and planned out the route to my next brewery. Thanks to a buddy from my old work back home, Tim, my drinks were covered!

Since I had biked out of Norfolk yesterday instead of staying another night, it gave me more time to check out Williamsburg.

Biked around the city, which had a neat little downtown area and college campus, and stopped at Precarious Beer Project for some more beer, tacos and to watch the world cup match between the US and England. (Yes, I am a little behind on my blog posts right now!)

After getting sucked into the game, I realized I had only an hour to get to the park I was planning on staying at before the office closed. Google maps was saying it would take me an hour and ten minutes to get there.

Game on!

With the sun beating down on me and my legs cranking the pedals, I got a text from my buddy Doug from back home.

He said his mom, Betsy, was going to be driving through the area and wanted to take me out for some food!

Betsy

I made it to the park with 5 minutes to spare, but the office was already closed. I banged on the window, showed them the time, pleaded with them, and they finally let me in to pay for a campsite for the night.

Chickahominy Riverfront Park

Just after that, Besty pulled up and took me out. We first went to another brewery, Alewerks and then out for some delicious food. I was definitely fat and happy after that pot roast, sweet potato mash, broccoli, salad, corn bread, and dinner rolls.

She made sure I had a full charge on my phone before the evening was over and then she got me back to the campsite just before the sun went down. Even left me with a goody bag! Bunch of protein bars and meal replacement bars!

Thanks Betsy!
The neighbor hearing I had food

Day 53 – Williamsburg to Richmond, VA

Today’s route is almost completely on a bike path called the Virginia Capital Trail. The only time I need to get off it is to find beer and find my hotel.

Yes, I have a hotel for tonight thanks to Doug’s mom Betsy! Super kind of her not only to have taken me out yesterday, fed me, gave me snacks, and now to book a hotel for me also!

It was a very hot day, but about 20 miles or so in, I rode past another bike rider. This wasn’t just another regular rider, this guy was doing the full Key West to Canada route as well!

Dylan left June 1st and I had left Key West May 12th and we met here today. So obviously he is putting in more miles each day than I am. He had put in around 1400 miles to this point where as I had put in over 2000 miles! Shows how much off the path I go to find breweries, campsites, and anything else that looks of interest!

We rode all the way into Richmond together and stopped at a coffee shop to hang out and talk more.

Dylan and I riding into Richmond

He is doing the route all by paper map! Doesn’t even have a smartphone with him! I have become very dependent on my phone for directions, but it made me feel better to know that those maps cost him over $100! They give good details of the route, places to stay, about the cities and so on. My phone does it even better, though.

After filling up on coffee, water, snacks and exchanging information he kept on the path for probably another 30 or so miles and I did not.

I biked around town finding beer! Too much beer to try, though. So many breweries within just a couple miles of each other I had a tough time choosing which ones to visit.

The Capital

I ended up going to Stone Brewing, Bingo Beer Co, and Final Gravity Brewing. These made the cut for several reasons. The first two were recommended by some of Doug and Betsy’s family. Bingo Beer Co was also recommended by the bartender from Stone Brewing. Then Final Gravity Brewing was just the closest to the hotel I was staying at.

Kicked some young kid off the throne (nicely) and had him take my picture

Stone Brewing had some delicious (and a lot to choose from) IPAs. Bingo Beer Co had a cool arcade game room going on with decent beers. Final Gravity didn’t do flights so I got two half pours, but the two he had recommended were really good. It was their saison and double IPA.

After what felt like a long day, I plopped into my big comfy bed in my nice hotel and fell asleep real quick.

Stats:

  • Day 51 – 54.07 miles
  • Day 52 – 46.92 miles
  • Day 53 – 59.33 miles

Accommodation:

  • Ramada Limited Hotel
  • Big Bear Family Campground
  • Chickahominy Riverfront Park
  • Sleep Inn

Breweries:

I am over halfway! Well over halfway in the number of days given for my ride, just about halfway in terms of miles to Canada.

I know I have a lot of new readers and subscribers so I wanted to answer some common questions I am getting as well as recap my first half with some stats.

Why in the world are you riding from Key West to Canada?

Why in the world not?

I think my desire to do this started about 6 years ago when my older sister and her now husband rode the whole West coast. I wasn’t living on the east coast at that point but the idea of bicycle touring was planted in my mind then.

A few years later my sister Ali and her husband David asked if I wanted to ride the East coast with them. At this point I was living in Florida.

I said of course! The dates for this ride changed multiple times over the next couple years. I was set on going after my 3 year mark at work. After 3 years (which was March 2019), I was both vested with Verizon and done with my MBA that they paid for.

This seemed like the perfect time for me.
My sister got prego though so they ended up not being able to do it with me, but that’s okay because I’m having a blast by myself! Not to say I wouldn’t have had an excellent time with them..

I have been biking to breweries for a while now, and I’ve seen more outside of the US than inside, so I figured the best idea would be to bike the East Coast and go brewery to brewery.

My sister said their biggest regret from the West Coast tour was they went too fast. So I figured going to breweries and meeting local people along my route would slow me down, but for good reason.

Al this to say, I’m riding the whole East Coast to see more of the US, drink good beer, and meet lots of awesome people!

How are you funding this trip?

Through years of budgeting!

I am a nerd in the fact that I love numbers and budgeting. This has definitely helped me though, as under a year of starting at Verizon Wireless in sales, I was able to pay off over 30k in student debt. After that (and before I was married) I auto deposited 10% of every paycheck into my “fun” account (after I was married this changed to 5%).

So for nearly 3 years I had this “fun” account growing as well as investing that money into stocks so my money could be making money.
That is how I have been able to plan this trip.

However! It has been the kindness of family, friends and total strangers who have supplied me with places to stay, food to eat, beer to drink, and everything else in between that has helped tremendously with my budget.

That is definitely how I have been able to stay in safe places, drink good beer, and not lose too much meat on my bones.

What kind of bike/set up do you have?

I have never had a road bike before this trip, always a mountain bike or BMX bike back in my youth.

I bought a Surly Long Haul Disc Trucker for this trip and it was a great purchase! It has been fast on the streets, tough off the road, handles great even with 60+ pounds added on with panniers and equipment, and have had no major issues.

I am using the surly front rack with Jaand paniers on the front that carry spare parts and tools, cooking equipment, bike lock, and other miscellaneous items that don’t need to necessarily stay dry.

On the back, I am using the Ibera bike rack with Ortlieb waterproof panniers. Those carry my sleeping stuff, clothes, electronics, journal, brewery coasters and stickers and anything else that needs to stay dry.

I am using the Brooks standard bike seat, and REI Passage 1 tent. I strapped a Camelback on the front rack to carry extra water when I need it, and carries most all of my food.

I’ve been blessed to not have any issues with any of my stuff so far!

What route are you taking?

The East Coast Greenway!

An awesome organization that has been around since the late 90’s who are trying to complete a consecutive bike path from Key West to Canada.

Their website has it all mapped out with about one-third of it on actual bike paths and the other two-thirds on more bike friendly roads.

This route takes me through Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.
So it pretty much follows the coast all the way up through Maine and to the border of Canada at Saint Stephen.

I do have to use Google maps quite often too. This directs me to breweries, coffee shops, grocery stores, camping sites, etc.

What has been the best part of the trip so far?

The people!

I have met so many kind, funny, interesting, crazier than me, generous people.

Since I am traveling alone (which I totally recommend everyone does at some point in their life) I am forced to meet other people. I don’t have the crutch of someone I know next to me so I have to go out of my way to meet and talk to others.

It definitely puts me outside my comfort zone as I would say I am not super outgoing. But I love it! So many stories, wisdom, and good conversations come from others I have met along the way.

It also helps you appreciate where other people come from, how they live, what they do for a living and to see people with the eyes of Jesus no matter how different they are from me.

What has been the hardest part so far?


Surprisingly, the riding part hasn’t been the hardest. I want to tap out more often than not due to being mentally tired than physically tired.

The hardest part has been sleeping in my tent with a thin pad in the heat. Really, trying to sleep when it’s so hot out even at night has been the hardest part.

Luckily (and hopefully) it should be getting cooler at night the farther north I go!

What do I eat?

Probably not enough! It’s hard to keep up with how many calories I burn during my ride.

Here is a bullet list of stuff I buy at the grocery store:

– instant protein oatmeal
– small flour tortillas
– Luna bars or Cliff bars
– Starkist creation tuna/chicken packets
– bananas and apples
– hikers trail mix
– instant mash potatoes
– canned chili
– canned soup
– instant pasta creations

Outside of making my food, I have eaten lots of Chick-fil-A, subway, and McDonald’s breakfast. Every now and then I will splurge and go to a local sit down restaurant or diner, but typically would rather get something cheap, filling, and without having to tip someone to wait on me.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) most of my budget goes towards the breweries! I get a lot of calories from the beer at least!

I have grown very fond to getting chocolate shakes often too! Sometimes regretting it after when I’m back out in the heat trying to bike another 30 miles.

What do I drink?

Coffee, water, beer.

My top 3 favorite styles of beers right now would be Sours, IPAs, and Porter’s, but I will drink anything especially if the bartender recommends it or the brewery is known for it.

First 50 day’s stats

  • 1965.70 miles riden
  • 50 days on the road
  • 5 rest days
  • Average of 43.68 miles per day riding
  • 62 breweries visited – lots of ounces drank!
  • Been chased by 10 dogs most of which were in North Carolina
  • 1 coyote encounter while sleeping behind a church
  • 1 black bear encounter
  • Average $$ spent per day: $36.38
  • Have stayed with 9 different families – all excellent experiences!
  • 0 flat tires (1 flat for Dani who rode with me 2 days!)
  • 4 ferries riden
  • Seen my wife 6 out of 50 day’s
  • Parents came and visited me in Wilmington
  • Still 0 ticks found, mom

A snapshot of some of my favorite photos up to this point:

Let me know if you have any other questions about my ride!